Days on the River

Early mornings on the river now reveal just how circular my own journey is and how natural death is to life. All life blooms, but also fades.  In youth, I ran toward the next Christmas and to the next Halloween and to the next grade and the next teacher and to a boyfriend and to a husband. Never would I suffer divorce. Never, in my imagination, would my mother die.  My brother would not die.  My life long friends would remain at my side always. The abundance of living well, seemed endless.

In reality, the magic that perches at the edge of the river demonstrates again and again that life transforms.  I look down at my own hands at this keyboard this morning and see this transformation in my self. I have no choice but to accept it, while at the same time, I have the opportunity to create magic in others and to watch life unfold in my children and in my grandson.  I also have the choice to embrace the beauty of another fading summer.

My circular walks at the river have healed me throughout this lush green often-wet summer.  I have watched closely as the adult Bald Eagles tended two eggs at their nest, saw them through the biting cold of spring when at last those eggs hatched and almost two months later two beautiful fledglings found their place in a brutal world.

Having watched this mating pair over several seasons, it was sad to watch the disappearance of Mrs., a week after the second youngster fledged.  She was such an inspiring raptor and was vigilant with the two young eagles, demonstrating fiercely, the skills that were intuitive and essential for their start in life.  She may have been evicted or killed and within days, a sub adult began to dominate the territory, eventually captivating Mr. who diligently fed and raised up his two progeny.

These days those same juveniles soar high above me, carving huge circles into a deep blue sky, utterly celebrating what it means to be Bald Eagles.  I sometimes find myself weeping at the enormous beauty of this passage of time as manifested in one little family at the river.

I no longer hear the sounds of the Red-Winged Blackbirds.  Theirs is the first song of spring.  And now, they are gone.  Where only a month ago the Yellow Warblers’ very particular song filled the woods, there is only the occasional flash of bright yellow in the low brush.  Mating and fledging behind them now, where do they disappear?  The sounds of geese returns after a month of silence.  The adult Mallards begin to separate from the juveniles now, after so many weeks of being alert and startling so easily.  The American Pelicans no longer rest in great numbers in the quiet eddies of the Bow.  The changes happen in subtle ways.  One beauty is replaced by another.

Now, the Cedar Waxwing juveniles are practicing flight in great numbers and every evening they are making loops out over the water and back, out and back, lighting in bare branches.  Adults remain vigilant.  Yellow Rumped Warblers have increased in numbers, likely just passing through, and Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Northern Flickers take up residence.  Many of them will winter here.

Wild Asters are in bloom for a second time and the Thistles are in seed.  Small water bugs fly thick and hover above the racing water.  The fish jump. Conversations with the fishermen include stories of Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Pike.  They pull out their phones and scroll through their photographs, proudly telling me their fishing narratives.  They  humour me with observations of the eagles.

The native grasses are now beyond my shoulders and the closeness creates that feeling of being watched, a mystical feeling of not being alone.  Sometimes, I look to the left and deer are perfectly still and their eyes meet mine.  Their eyes are pools of dark liquid, staring.  They do not move. We are captivated by one another.  If I move at all they flinch or huff and spook into the trees. The coyotes sulk into the tall growth and disappear.  It is in this stillness where I discover life, abundantly.  I look up and a juvenile eagle is peering at me.  The Grey Catbirds, now gone, would remain absolutely still as I slipped by.  The Eastern Kingbirds, showmen as they are, perform their antics with seemingly no fear.  Their numbers are also dwindling at the river’s edge.

Once, the stillness was broken by the loud slap of a beaver in the quiet eddy to the south.  Another time, with my back to the water, I heard a powerful bang and quickly pivoted around to see an Osprey lift up and out of the water, huge fish clutched in its talons.  The sounds at the river are mesmerizing…and now, with the tall grasses turning gold, those sounds can be very soft and comforting.

 

Tansy is changing from brilliant yellow to brown.  Leaves drift silently to the ground from the highest canopy.  I am in awe that summer is at an end.

Over the coming weeks, the Bald Eagles will eek out their place on the river.  Mr. will no longer provide the two youngsters with food.  He will evict them and they will begin their struggle to survive through another bitterly cold winter.  I don’t have any idea how to end this post because life at the river has no real end.  It is a place of beginnings.

I know this.  I know that we must challenge everything in the world that does not steward the land and the earth and the air.  Life is a brutal thing.  Death is brutal.  We must protect the little ones.  We must leave my grandson this beauty…I can not imagine him not knowing what a world of abundance we were given.

Eggs!

As Easter approaches and we anticipate the end of our Lenten journey; as we live in hope that snow will soon disappear and be replaced by green, my grade ones have been exploring eggs and new life.

Each morning, after attendance, I sign on to the Live Eagle Cam of Duke Farms and we see what the eaglets and their wonderful parents are up to.  It is most common for eagles to lay two eggs each season, but this year we got three.  I’ve been following Duke Farms for a few years now, simply because it is great entertainment to see the antics at the nest, the determination and the utter devotion.  Sometimes bad things happen.  Life is just like that.  But in the meantime, it is quite something to observe a live fish being dropped into a nest and the amazing care that is given to these fuzzy critters that seem clumsy and disproportioned!

Eagle 54This was a screen shot I took after the second egg came along.  A running commentary is located so that viewers can observe the scientific timeline of events.

Update 4/1/2014
The 3rd egg has hatched. The 3rd eaglet is smaller than the other 2 who hatched on the same day.

Update 3/31/2014
The 3rd egg appears to now have a pip (hole) in the shell. Hatch should occur today or tomorrow.

Update 3/29/2014
2 chicks have hatched in the nest. Parents are starting to leave food in the nest such as fish and waterfowl to give the nesting parent and young food. The 3rd egg has not hatched yet.

Update 2/24/2014
A 3rd egg was laid on 2/23/2014 in the afternoon. Thanks you viewers for your valuable observations throughout the nesting season.

Update 2/20/2014
A 2nd egg was laid the afternoon of 2/20/2014.

Update 2/18/2014
An egg was laid in the afternoon of 2/17/2014*. Snow in the nest should begin to dissipate as temps rise during the day over the next few days. The cam will remain zoomed close in on the nest bowl to aid in detection of additional eggs.

Each day, my grade one students are writing a sentence in their journal about the new thing that happened that day.  Their pictures are AMAZING and I will include those next week when I record our discoveries.

This morning, I took this screen shot.  Mrs. is sitting on a fish that she brought to the nest yesterday.  This is the sort of thing that the grade ones love!  They also enjoy when both adults spend time together with the eaglets.

Eagle April 12, 2014This past week, in art class, we painted eggs to represent new life…all with tints.  This was an exploration of straight lines, curvy lines and zig zag lines.

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Gorilla House LIVE ART: February 13, 2013

Peter: The Man God Uses

David Go writes more eloquently about this issue than I do, so I hope that you will be led to click the link above titled: Peter: The Man God Uses.

I consciously decided to offer up my painting over the Lenten season as lessons/offerings/praise experiences to our Lord.  It began last night on Ash Wednesday at the Gorilla House.  As a part of the under painting that I whipped up at home, I included a few collage items…one, a vintage image of Superman, the Gospel reading from Luke.

Luke 5:1-11

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

…and finally, the face of a noble king.  I threw my stuff into the van and off I headed to the Gorilla House.

I was so happy to see Cheryl; friends, Gillian, Kelly, Lauraine, Wendy and several first-time artists at ‘the house’.  It was also really special to have hammered dulcimer music played live throughout the evening by Tomko Lamb!  Wowsah!  The sound on this youtube video does not, in any way,  capture the sound that we enjoyed in ‘the house’ last night, but it may give you some idea.  If anyone has something better, I’d love to post it.

The three themes of the night were,

1. “Somehow we became friends” from Solipsist by Henry Rollins
2. Sun shower
3. Plow from the Book of Symbols

I had already decided to paint from the heart and not from the head.  So…

In my nautical piece, the waters of the sea become agitated and then, crazy-wild…that’s what life is like…and then, like the upper left quadrant of the painting, the calm and beautiful sky is gradually exposed, offering hope to the sailor, hope of respite and peace.  I’m hoping that during this Lenten journey, I can show kindness…and patience.

Since the announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, there have been reactions worldwide…some sensitive and others inappropriate and in poor taste.  I am going to simply pray for that peace that I write about when I write of the waters.  Global unity and peace will only be possible when we grow in respect of our neighbours.  I hope to be an exemplar of that.

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Some other goings-on at the Gorilla House.

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Harold’s work on exhibit at the Gorilla House.

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Harold, refurbishing fandango art.

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Cheryl and Kells with all the other WOMEN!

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Broad strokes for a start…

Lane Shordee, Installation Artist, hard at it!

Lane Shordee, Installation Artist, hard at it!

Jess puts her 'heart' into embroidery here.

Jess puts her ‘heart’ into embroidery here.

My dear friend in art.

My dear friend in art.

Precious friend...painter...singer...all round amazing lady!

Precious friend…painter…singer…all round amazing lady!